5 things we learned from Valorant First Strike

Riot Games / Dexerto

Valorant First Strike is over and done with, but the results have shocked a lot of fans across the globe. Here’s the main takeaways from the event, and what this means for Future Earth moving forward.

As the dust settles on an amazing weekend of First Strike action, we now know what competitive Valorant will look like. There were a lot of crazy plays, wild clutches and devastating upsets, and it’s safe to say by the close of play the results shocked me.

It’s clear that First Strike weekend was a learning experience both for us as fans and Riot Games. So, what did we really learn from First Strike? What was done perfectly and what needed some adjustments?

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Well, here are the five things I learned from First Strike.

Valorant First Strike header

1. Never underestimate the underdog

It was clear to me from the get-go that across the globe Valorant First Strike was anyone’s game. When we started seeing subpar performances from organizations like Guild Esports and SpaceStation Gaming, it seemed that there would be upsets aplenty.

And that’s exactly what happened. First Strike North America saw Team Envy, the first seed of the NSG Qualifiers, fall at the hands of Team SoloMid. 100 Thieves, an underrated squad, emerged as eventual winenrs. While TSM’s James ‘hazed’ Cobb remarked that the victory was that TSM “threw more than 1oo Thieves won”, 100 Thieves’ Spencer ‘hiko’ Martin shut this down by reminding TSM that they’ve “beaten them twice now”.

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A similar pattern emerged in Europe. With behemoths like G2 Esports, Team Liquid, and FunPlus Phoenix, it was pretty much a given two of them would be duking it out for the trophy. Well, weren’t we all wrong?

Moral of the story: never underestimate the underdog, which leads me nicely into point number two.

2. Open qualifiers are pretty cool

One thing that I really loved during the tournament was seeing a host of new faces battling against some of esports’ most established organizations. We wouldn’t have seen that if it wasn’t for the open qualifiers.

The success of teams like SUMN FC, nolpenki and Purple Cobras is inspiring. They’re just groups of friends who banded together in the hopes of shaking up Future Earth. Nolpenki, for example, took down Guild Esports, David Beckham’s esports baby.

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Hopefully Riot keeps this up for Valorant, as it provides fans with a more changeable experience. After all, variety is the spice of life.

Team Heretics Valorant WinTwitter: Team Heretics
Would Team Heretics have qualified for First Strike: Europe without open qualifiers?

3. Being able to watch global Valorant is great

That leads perfectly into point number three: the global coverage. First Strike is the first ever tournament where I’ve actively been inclined to watch regions outside Europe and North America. This is something Riot have done well in League of Legends, and it’s clearly something they’re sneaking into Valorant too.

Every region has its unique take on Valorant. Their styles, their Agent pools, their tactics – they’re all different. Not only is it fun to compare the likes of Europe to Brazil or North America to MENA, it’s a great way to pick up new tricks to dominate in game.

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It’s something that inspires pros as well. Coming into the Valorant Champions Tour next year, hazed is actively looking forward to playing the “creative” style he’s seen from Vision Strikes.

Although, moving forward  it’ll be interesting to see if Valorant develops a dedicated esports hub in the style of League of Legends. Having all of the games, vods and extras in one place would make other regions’ tournaments a lot easier to navigate and save an hour of searching on YouTube and Twitch.

4. Icebox should have been left out of First Strike

While I, like many other fans, really wanted to see how the pros coped with the Valorant community’s least favourite map, I think that Icebox should have been left out of professional play.

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Both minor and major regions had barely any practice time on the map, and in turn we rarely saw it because it was permabanned.

To me that shows that pros didn’t feel comfortable enough playing the map. Both for the sake of competitive integrity and viewer experience, we may as well have given Icebox the boot.

5. Viper’s not that bad

As someone who started out playing Viper I have never given up the crusade that she isn’t a terrible Agent. Yes, she’s been nerfed into the ground, yes, her toxin run out too fast, but if you master her you can dominate with her.

We saw a few Vipers during First Srike, but SUMN FC’s James ‘mistic’ Orfila certainly had my favorite Viper play of the weekend.

Maybe pros are using her for shock value? Maybe it’s because there aren’t a lot of Agents? Maybe it’s tactical? Who knows, but hopefully we see more of her in the future. After all, she’s ‘intoxicating’ to watch.

Valorant's Viper by the logoRiot Games
She might not be amazing, but she’ll forever be my favorite.

I remember playing Valorant when it first came out and thinking “hey, this would make a really great esport”. First Strike certainly proved me right.

It’ll be exciting to see what the upcoming Champions Tour circuit has in store, especially as more Agents and maps are added for Episode 2. In its first year, Valorant’s got me and millions of others hooked. The future is certainly bright – even if you’re a Viper main like me.